Rockingham Ready for Intense ARCA Racing Series Finale (TOLEDO, Ohio) - Featuring a history rivaled by only a mere handful of race tracks across America, Rockingham Speedway is a fitting host for Saturday's American 200 presented by Black's Tire...
Rockingham Ready for Intense ARCA Racing Series Finale
(TOLEDO, Ohio) - Featuring a history rivaled by only a mere handful of race tracks across America, Rockingham Speedway is a fitting host for Saturday's American 200 presented by Black's Tire and Auto Service, the 2010 ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards season finale.
Not only do the 1.017-mile track's many stories contribute to an alluring atmosphere for the series' drivers and teams, but the race surface itself is one that will present a challenge to the three drivers contending for a first ARCA Racing Series championship, and along the way, highlight the best true driver.
Banked at 22 degrees in the first two turns and 25 in the final two, Rockingham Speedway features a rough surface capable of taking a tremendous toll on tires and the suspension of even the strongest stock cars. Car care will be important, says series points leader Patrick Sheltra (No. 60 Ferguson Pipe/Jones Group International Toyota).
"We've had our good runs there and we've had our bad runs there," Sheltra said. "It's a slick race track, and it comes down to tire management and fuel mileage. It's a racer's track. You've got to get up on the wheel and go for it."
Sheltra stands 10 points ahead of Craig Goess (No. 81 Greenville Toyota of N.C. Toyota) and 20 points in front of Tom Hessert (No. 77 Cherry Hill Classic Cars Dodge) entering the final race, but if he hopes to finish as the series champion, he'll have to improve on a 38th-place finish in his last outing at Rockingham. Sheltra dropped out of contention with a crash in last year's season finale.
Goess will return to the track confident in his ability to improve. Experimentation, he insists, is a thing of the past, and now is the time to win.
"(Rockingham) is fun to get around as a driver. We'll have a better setup than when we went there before. We tried some things at the end of last year that didn't really work out for us. I still like driving the track, even with a car I wasn't happy with, so that tells you how much fun it is," said Goess.
He finished 17th last fall.
Hessert, who finished one spot ahead of Goess last fall at Rockingham, proved himself a historian in assessing Rockingham's features.
"Rockingham Speedway is a really historic race track. It opened in 1965, and the surface might be just that old, because it's pretty slippery and pretty rough and hard to get a hold of, but the coolest thing about Rockingham is that it's really multi-grooved," he said. "You'll have one guy kind of bottom-feed right around the white line, and you'll have some guys that look like they're going 300 miles an hour right up next to the wall, and run the same exact lap time."
The 200-lap American 200 airs live on SPEED at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, with timing and scoring and live audio coverage presented by ARCA Nation and the ARCA Racing Network at ARCARacing.com. Four races have been held at the track, with two won by Venturini Motorsports (Joey Logano in 2008, Sean Caisse in 2009). 48 cars are presently entered, and 41 will start.
The event will complete the series' 20-race schedule, and activity begins with an optional open test for ARCA Racing Series teams on Thursday. A 90-minute practice leads Friday's schedule at 11:30 a.m., and Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell begins at 2:30 p.m. Live audio coverage and live timing and scoring of all events will be presented by ARCA Nation and the ARCA Racing Network at ARCARacing.com.
Rockingham Speedway has invited racing legends Junior Johnson and Donnie Allison to attend the American 200; Johnson won 13 NASCAR Cup races at the track as an owner between 1969 and 1992, including five straight from 1980-1982, and Allison won as a driver in 1968 and 1977.
"We've really got a first-class event lined up for the fans with the American 200," said Rockingham Speedway president Andy Hillenburg, who will also field Bryan Silas's No. 11 Rockingham Speedway/Palm Beach Grading Ford and Tyler Speer's No. 10 Proboat/R. Wilson Contractors Chevrolet. "The races that we are hosting will be competitive and exciting for everyone and we're hoping for a record turnout of fans ready to see stock car racing at its best."
The race will be preceded by the City of Rockingham's downtown party, ThunderFest, which on Thursday will feature an ARCA Racing Series driver autograph session at 6:30 p.m.
Two of the numerous drivers in attendance will be Tim George Jr. (No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Development Chevrolet) and Ty Dillon (No. 41 Karl Chevrolet/Richard Childress Racing Development Chevrolet), whose team affiliations may play a role in success at the track. Childress won NASCAR Cup races at the track with Dale Earnhardt in 1987, 1994, and 1996, and will attempt Rockingham as a car owner for the first time Saturday.
Also scheduled to appear for autographs are Sheltra, Goess, Hessert, and nine-time ARCA Racing Series champion Frank Kimmel, among others.
One notable race entry is Steve Park (No. 53 Coastal Wire Ford), who won a NASCAR race at "The Rock" in 2001 for Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
"Rockingham holds a special place in my heart, having had the chance to win there in the Cup Series. I kind of miss the place since they took it off the Cup schedule, and Cup, Nationwide, and the Trucks don't run there. But no matter what division, I'm looking forward to going to Rockingham and seeing all the race fans," Park said.
Last season, only two drivers were able to finish in the top 10 in both races at Rockingham. One was racing veteran Ken Schrader, who is not entered, and the other was Parker Kligerman, who won in the fall and finished second to Justin Lofton in the championship standings before moving to the NASCAR Nationwide Series. As such, numerous drivers have experience running up front.
Casey Roderick, Chris Buescher, and Grant Enfinger are all part-time drivers who finished among the top seven last fall and are entered for Saturday's race. Dakoda Armstrong and Joey Coulter, who are both in the top 10 in this year's standings, ran eighth and ninth last October.
Though their last October race at Rockingham produced disappointing results, championship contenders Sheltra and Goess finished second and sixth last spring. Silas was fourth and Steve Arpin 10th.